Canadian Manufacturing

Canadian Coast Guard begins icebreaking operations on the Great Lakes

These vessels are supported as required by additional Coast Guard vessels during the spring icebreaking season

January 8, 2021  by CM Staff

The CCGS Samuel Risley performs icebreaking duties on the St. Marys River, Ontario in March 2020. (CNW Group/Canadian Coast Guard)

SARNIA, Ont. — The Canadian Coast Guard’s annual icebreaking season on the Great Lakes, which provides assistance to the shipping industry, is underway. Working in partnership with the United States Coast Guard (USCG) District 9, the Canadian Coast Guard has two icebreakers assigned to the Great Lakes for the entire winter season: CCGS Griffon and CCGS Samuel Risley. These vessels are supported as required by additional Coast Guard vessels during the spring icebreaking season.

“By collaborating with the United States Coast Guard and working closely with partners, maritime shipping on the Great Lakes can be done safely and efficiently, which ultimately allows Canada to play a vital role in economic activity and shipping maritime commerce,” said Bernadette Jordan, minister of Fisheries, Oceans and the Canadian Coast Guard, in a prepared statement. “Our experienced crews and staff ensure cargo and goods continue to move, while safely maintaining operations during the COVID-19 pandemic. The Canadian Coast Guard is proud to assist vessels and communities during the Great Lakes icebreaking season, and we are confident this year will be a success.”

Icebreaking requests are coordinated by Coast Guard’s Icebreaking Office in Montreal, along with the USCG. Daily operational conference calls are held between industry representatives and Coast Guard officials, who provide updates from both countries about ice extent, concentration, and thickness. Ice condition updates are provided by Environment and Climate Change Canada, and also gathered from ice reconnaissance flights, using both Canadian and United States Coast Guard helicopters.

Marine Communications and Traffic Services in Sarnia, ON, and Prescott, ON, are in contact with mariners 24-hours-a-day providing information, managing marine traffic, and responding to calls for assistance. Winter maritime search and rescue operations are coordinated by the Joint Rescue Coordination Centre in Trenton, ON. Coast Guard icebreakers and other vessels may be called upon to help. Aircraft from the Department of National Defence and USCG are also involved in maritime search and rescue operations, as necessary.

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